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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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First Principles                315

Devil—taking these things so much as matters of course
that, though they are visible enough if we choose to see them,
we neglect them normally altogether, without for a moment
intending to deny their existence.   This neglect is convenient
as  preventing  repetitions  the  monotony  of which would
defeat their own purpose, but people are tempted neverthe-
less to forget the underlying omnipresence in the superficial
omniabsence.   They forget that its opposite lurks in every- ^
thing—that there are harmonics of God in the Devil and'
harmonics of the Devil in God.

Contradiction in terms is not only to be excused but there
can be no proposition which does not more or less involve

It is the fact of there being contradictions in terms, which
have to be smoothed away and fused into harmonious ac-
quiescence with their surroundings, that makes life and
consciousness possible at all. Unless the unexpected were
sprung upon us continually to enliven us we should pass life,
as it were, in sleep. To a living being no "It is " can be
absolute; wherever there is an " Is," there, among its har-
monics, lurks an " Is not." When there is absolute absence
of " Is not " the " Is " goes too. And the " Is not " does not
go completely till the " Is " is gone along with it. Every
proposition has got a skeleton in its cupboard.


Intuition and evidence seem to have something of the
same relation that faith and reason, luck and cunning, free-
will and necessity and demand and supply have. They grow
up hand in hand and no man can say which comes first. It
is the same with life and death, which lurk one within the
other as do rest and unrest, change and persistence, heat and
cold, poverty and riches, harmony and counterpoint, night
and day, summer and winter.

And so with pantheism and atheism ; loving everybody is
loving nobody, and God everywhere is, practically, God
nowhere. I once asked a man if he was a free-thinker ; he
replied that he did not think he was. And so, I have heard
of a man exclaiming " I am an atheist, thank God!"